Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Houston can't have anything nice. (Tear down the Dome edition)

Oh. My. Gawd.

A not so modest proposal for the Astrodome. David Kaplan, Prime Property a Chron.com blog

It’s Niagara Falls meets Paris World’s Fair meets “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

And that's just the header.  The remainder of the article is a reminder of just how bereft of ideas the so-called "creative class" in Houston really is.

Niagara Falls? - Um, not really. Especially when you consider Niagara Falls is one of the seven wonders of the Natural world.  An inside waterfall would be like the Dubai Mall, only less so because it would be a weak copy without all of the beauty of the silver figures diving down it.

Paris World's Fair? Look, the Eiffel Tower works because it is the perfect (phallic) symbol for the Nation of France.  Obviously such symbolism doesn't work for perpetually whingeing Houston.  What is the symbol for an inferiority complex again?

2001: A Space Odyssey?  Actually, Kaplan is setting his sights a little lower trying to COPY.......Fort Worth.  If you're the biggest city in Texas and you're trying to COPY Fort Worth, you're doing it wrong.

The rest of the 'idea' is nothing more than a wish-list of things that the so-called 'creative class' wishes they had in Houston instead of other places.  Copy an Apple store design? Check.  A Space Needle (complete with revolving restaurant). Check. River Rides?  Check.

To my mind that's been the problem with every idea that's been floated for the Dome. They're all weak attempts at knocking off things that make other cities special.  Even the most creative idea, stripping down the Dome and turning the area into a park, was ruined when Chris Alexander, the project director, described it as "a potential Central Park in Houston".  The problem here obviously being that the Reliant Complex is NOT centrally located and that Disco Green was supposed to be "Houston's Central Park" and you can't have two.

Outside of the obvious, a casino - currently illegal in Texas - there's not much there that's going to be approved by both the Texans and the Houston Livestock show and Rodeo.  Given this reality we're running full steam toward the point where we demolish the thing, fill the hole, and build either a parking lot or garage. When this happens there will be much wailing, gnashing of teeth and blame casting.  In reality, the blame falls with the contract that was written with the Texans and the HLSR back when Reliant was constructed, and the fact that Houston has allowed those with a chronic lack of imagination take charge of planning and ideas.

Houston needs a creativity infusion and it needs it soon. The same ol', same ol' from the Sardine Urbanists could be the one thing that causes us to grind to a halt.

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